AFL Riverina has kicked off its biggest review in a decade, announcing an independent consultant to lead a forensic examination of senior and junior football and netball competitions over the off-season.
The review, revealed by The Daily Advertiser six months ago, could be the first step towards significant change to the Riverina League, Farrer League, Wagga and District Juniors and South-West Juniors.
“I don’t want to pre-empt anything. We’ll come out of the review and make decisions based on the information we gather,” AFL Riverina chairman, Michael Irons said.
“It is a positive thing because we want to be able to adjust to change. We want to plan for change instead of reacting to circumstances that may be out of our control.”
The AFL Riverina Competitions Review will deliver recommendations next March for the 2020 season and beyond but more urgent change hasn’t been ruled out.
“The project timeframe is a guide,” Irons said. “We’re not looking to make any significant changes until 2020 but if there are necessary changes that are deemed a priority, we will consider them with due process.”
The review is intended to determine the ‘optimal competition structures and pathways in the Riverina/MIA region to facilitate competitive balance, community club sustainability and future growth of AFL’.
It will be led by David Burgess, a business executive specialising in project and change management and currently overseeing Sydney AFL’s club development project. Burgess has been involved in Australian rules in Sydney for 14 years as a coach and committee member and in a variety of strategy roles.
“I think he comes in without any pre-conceived ideas or affiliations. It’s a different set of eyes to work through the process,” Irons said.
The review will also assess the state of, and prospects for, women’s football while taking into account the importance of netball.
Jointly commissioned by AFL NSW/ACT and AFL Riverina, the project will set out to gauge the areas and reasons for growth and decline in the sports.
Irons says sustainability is the key word.
“(What’s most important is) that clubs are in competitions where they can sustain themselves, and are not over-extending,” he said.
“Clubs are going to be consulted throughout this process, most definitely.
“The project team (from AFL House) is there to provide support to David but a lot of the information is going to come from clubs, be it through surveys or club meetings.”
The terms of reference have been sent to all clubs and are available on the AFL Riverina website.
AFL Riverina’s last major review was the 2008 Montgomery Report investigating the structure of football and netball in southern NSW.
“While it has been 10 years since the Montgomery review, we have undergone a number of changes within our own competitions within that time as well,” Irons said.